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Anne Law

Aon moving to London, but won’t quit Chicago

by Anne Law | Dun & Bradstreet Editor

January 13, 2012 | No Comments »

Aon London HeadquartersBrokerage firm Aon, which has run neck-and-neck with Marsh for the title of top global insurance agency for years, has announced plans to move its corporate headquarters from the US to the UK.

Proximity to the Lloyd’s of London exchange, a major global trading place for property/casualty insurance policies, is listed as a major incentive for the move from Chicago to London. The Hoover’s Online profile describes Lloyd’s as “a busy market where groups who have risks can meet up with groups who have money to insure risk.”

 The move will also give Aon easier access to emerging markets like India and China, potentially allowing the company to better serve the insurance companies it distributes policies for (as practically every global insurance provider is looking to grow in said markets). It also bolsters its Aon Limited division, which handles Aon’s UK-centric business and accounts for more than 15% of annual revenues.

The company does not plan to completely abandon its Chicago roots, however, and states that the move will not result in any job losses in the US (which remains Aon’s largest market with 40% of sales). In fact it is signing a 15-year lease on its current Chicago headquarters building, where 6,000 Aon employees are based, and it plans to move another 750 jobs to that location, which will become the headquarters for the Aon Americas organization. Aon also plans to keep its NYSE listing.

Aon must gain shareholder approval to convert to an England-based PLC (public limited company), and it is promoting its strategy to investors by touting increased financial flexibility, cash flow gains, and capital allocation benefits. The firm hopes to complete the transaction during Q2.

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